Album review: Jonwayne’s “Rap Album Two”

Rapper and producer Jonwayne has been relatively quiet for the past two years, focusing on himself and his music, but recently released what many are already calling his magnum opus. A history lesson: in April 2015, he released a rap EP, “Jonwayne is Retired;” later that year in October, he released an instrumental album; and about half a year later, he started intermittently releasing four rap singles (not on the following album). All through this time, he was dealing with severe alcoholism, depression and other problems, detailed in a personal letter—that also doubled as an announcement for “Rap Album Two”—posted in December last year. This context is essential for getting the most out of his most recent release, as it sets the scene for him to chronicle his experiences openly, approaching his problems through prose, poetry, a beautiful self-awareness and more.

Subdued and reflective, his rhymes take the form of therapy throughout the album. While his previous releases have had more of an in-your-face style at points, this, as a whole, is much more introverted—many times it seems he is rapping just for himself, to recognize his problems and see how he can grow. Musically, “Rap Album Two” is an explorative next step in his career with gorgeously mellow production and a perfectly paired effortless flow, but its true power goes beyond that. Jonwayne, through his talent and desire to help himself as well as others, has created something that allows his listeners to hear someone begin to recover, and will hopefully give inspiration to those with similar problems. A couple of days after its release, Jonwayne tweeted, “The amount of DM’s I’ve received from people talking about their addictions and/or loneliness is why I made this album.” The conversation does not have to just reside there, though; both he and I urge you to listen, talk with others and be open about it, just like he did. It is neither common nor easy to tackle these topics, but Jonwayne does so with poise and compassion.